Conventional wisdom dictates that all of the good, award-worthy movies come out at the end of the year while all of the billion-dollar popcorn movies run May-July. Don't get me wrong, I'll consume all of that as well, but it is almost always the films that fall between the cracks that make the biggest impression on me. Here's what I'm most looking forward to as we wave goodbye to the 2014 Oscar™ parade caboose. For a much shorter read, check out a list of My Wife's Most Anticipated Films of 2015.
This Hungarian film opened to mixed reviews at Sundance despite winning the Prize Un Certain Regard at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It looks like a pretty hokey drama but a pretty sweet B-horror. It'll be interesting to see how the two are reconciled.
Danish documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer has won huge accolades on the festival circuit with his sequel to 2012's The Act of Killing. This is sure to be harrowing.
On the heels of #blacklivesmatter, Marc Silver's documentary debuts at the Sundance Film Festival and recounts how gun culture and racial bias culminated in the 2012 death of 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Like last year's Citizenfour, this appears to be a timely, relevant and uncompromising historical document and, hopefully, work of art.
This is a weird Sufjan Stevens "documentary" that appears to be an environmentalist art installment of a slow-motion rodeo. Maybe this one is only for me, and who knows if I'll ever even be able to see it.
Release: It'll probably show up on Vimeo in like three years.
U.S. limited release: 23 January 2015
U.S. limited release: 27 March 2015
The prolific Ben Wheatley has given us Kill List, Sightseers and A Field In England all since 2011. I don't even know what this movie is about; I'll be there.
Release: I'd guess limited late-summer
Sundance darling that apparently sounds like exactly what it is. You had me at "witch."
In their follow-up to the genre-bending Resolution, Benson and Moorhead return with a "romantic horror" which looks to buck convention while making me real uncomfortable. This is a lot of what I loved about Under the Skin and Trouble Every Day, so I have high hopes for this one.
His first feature since 2007's Flight of the Red Balloon, marking his longest professional hiatus by some distance, this film-- which I know nothing about (including pronunciation)-- is on here by reputation alone. It's currently listed on IMDb as in post-production and sounds like the kind of thing that will debut at Cannes and half of the audience won't be into it.
I can't say enough good things about the under-recognized Compliance, but where Zobel turned huge performances from a non-recognizable ensemble cast, his latest currently credits only Margot Robbie, Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor who are, possibly, the last known survivors on earth. This title may compete on my short list of "favorite Z-titled films" alongside Zelig, Zero for Conduct, Zero Dark Thirty and a few Zatoichi pictures.
Danish release: 16 April 2015. Thanks, IMDb.
Technically, this thing is already out. From the guy who brought us Berberian Sound Studio and the Björk: Biophilia Live concert film, the unofficial prequel to Anchorman.
A domestic drama adapted from the manga of the same name, this thing seems to be right up the alley of Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda (Still Life, Nobody Knows). I wouldn't be surprised if this thing debuts at Cannes as it's set to open in Japan a month later.
From the crazy Greek who brought us Dogtooth, here's hoping that The Lobster follows the recent European arthouse tradition-- alongside Attenberg and Borgman-- of confounding fever dream.
"But basically what it is is a really, really, almost classical gothic romance ghost story, but then it has two or three scenes that are really, really disturbing in a very, very modern way. Very, very disturbing, it's a proper R rating. And it's adult."So, basically, Pan's Labyrinth with Jessica Chastain? This could skyrocket close to #2 on my list, but my excitement is tempered by my disinterest in returning to Pacific Rim.
— Guillermo del Toro
I've been excited about this movie since I first heard of its existence and it still has no U.S. distribution. I hope someone picks this up before it hits Latin American torrents.
No one knows anything about this movie, including if it even exists. Kanye released a teaser trailer last February. Expect me to be camping out if this gets a theatrical release.
The next in the proud tradition of theme-park related films, Brad Bird will again play King Midas to something that would sound like a dumpster fire in anyone else's hands.
4. '71 (d. Yann Demange)
Full disclosure: I've seen this one and it rules. I don't expect this to play well this side of the Atlantic, but it should further flex Jack O'Connell as an A-list actor where his last few American features let him down.
Tarantino continues his foray into historiological metafiction through redemptive violence and blissful cinematic commentary. Inglourious Basterds was no mere Dirty Dozen knock-off, Django Unchained re-Americanized the essence of the spaghetti Western, and we have every reason to believe The Hateful Eight will play genre in a way that pays healthy respect to, but completely transcend expectation and source material of, its Magnificent Seven reference. I mean, look at that poster.
2. Midnight Special (d. Jeff Nichols)
U.S. release: 25 November 2015
I'm cheating by ending this list with a twofer, but it is an unprecedentedly exciting place in cinema where the short distance between 2011 and 2015 can produce as many Terrence Malick films as the previous 39 years.
What do I know about Knight of Cups? Very little. I don't even understand what the title possibly refers to, and I'll keep it this way. Remember when The Tree of Life was coming out and people were touting how it took Malick a long time to balance the harsh representation of fatherhood with the developing technology which made the dinosaurs look legitimate? There was no way to wrap my mind around a statement like that without actually seeing it, and my visceral and emotional connection was heightened by this ignorance. I know Christian Bale is in it. I know Natalie Portman is in it. I know Imogen Poots, Cate Blanchett and Nick Offerman are in it. I know '70s posterboy Ryan O'Neal adds Terrence Malick to his already crowded résumé of New Hollywood directors he's worked with (including Stanley Kubrick, Peter Bogdanovich, Blake Edwards, Norman Mailer, Richard Attenborough). But I'm not convinced any of them could even tell us what it is about at this point.
I know even less about the second feature. Including its title. I know it has a slightly improved cast (if that can be fathomed) with a few carryovers and I know the two films were shot, more or less, concurrently. Maybe Untitled will come out in 2015? If not, the recent trove of Malick will hold me over for a lifetime.
I also know To The Wonder is my favorite film of 2013, and I know The Tree of Life is my favorite film of my lifetime. That's all I need to know. By all means, watch the trailer. But I haven't.